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Consultation session With Young Scholars

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    Aditya Parekh

    This is a great chance for young research scholars to participate in policymaking and make their concerns/suggestions/issues heard in an open consultation platform with policymakers.

    What are the short term and long-term issues pertaining to young scholars of India?

    Are there any recommendations for change in existing policy or formation of new policies to address the problem?

    Aditya Parekh

    Some well-accepted areas of concerns are,

    1) Mental health problems (multifactorial)
    2) Age bar during the academic recruitments
    3) Underrepresentation of women
    4) Lack of exposure to non-academic careers
    5) Skewed work-life balance in academia
    6) Lack of personalized mentorship and skill-building workshops
    7) Lack of attractive fellowships in academia and non-academic careers to prevent brain drain
    8) …………….please continue adding

    Gauri Mirji

    Some more concerns of Indian postdocs are:

    1. There are very few fellowships available and the selection process is also very lengthy. Hence, most of the PhD students prefer going abroad for doing postdoctoral research.

    2. Postdoctoral offices are not available at most of the research institutes.

    3. Insurance schemes or health facilities should be made available for postdocs.

    4. Postdoctoral “fellowships” should not be taxable.

    5. There should be an internal assessment committee to monitor the progress of postdocs.

    6. Career fairs or Placement cells can be organised to advertise the academic or industry opportunities for postdocs.


    This type of open discussion forum/Meetings looks very good on Youtube, Twitter etc, but the reality is totally different.

    1.Why Indian Postdoctoral fellows are ignored for academic Jobs in India?
    2.Mental harassment cases are increasing day by day, but still, the scholars are neglected, No action against those Professors and the system?
    3.More Preference should be given to those applicants who have studied in the different academic institution after their Ph.D. Monopoly system should be reduced, a gap of 5 years for those who want to apply PDF in the same host institution after their PhD.).
    4.Age criteria should be rolled back for National level PDF program (minimum 3 years, no 2 years).
    5.There should be No tax on PDF fellowships even not on Project funded scheme fellows like JRF, SRF, RA, PF etc. working under different funding scheme projects.
    6.A proper medical facility should be provided by the Host institution for all Research scholars, PDF fellows, project associated fellows.
    7.There is a lack of infrastructure facilities in many Central/State Govt. Universities in India but still, today lakhs of money is wasted in the name of R&D, stop funding these Universities. Don’t go the high impact Research publications, the ground reality is totally different. A feedback type system should be included after a scholar completes his/her PhD or PDF from any host institution.
    8.There should be a database for all the National PDF fellows in India, How many of them got jobs or unemployed ?
    9.This difference in the Basic and Professional courses system be rolled back, LIFE SCIENCES means Life Sciences. These are soo many courses being running by many Central, state, deemed and Pvt. Universities- in the name of Science and but their names are totally different.
    10.The discrimination system with General Biotechnology/Microbiology course with other courses should be stopped in the recruitment system.
    11. Annual Conclave or Meeting should be included in all National PDF program (First-year progress report) so that actual ground report can be monitored, and a chance to change the host institution can be done at an early stage.


    Collaborative projects need to be started and recognised at an early stage of product development. Denial of grants stating it is not collaborative is a way of saying the clinician does not understand or have an idea related to the technical side. That’s unfortunate and can lead to poorly developed solutions with no use or poorly fitted for the clinical world


    Most of the PhD graduates struggle to find employment in industry sector and on the other hand industries blame that they are unable to find job profile matching CV. To fill the skill gap, India must have two years industry post-doctoral fellowship program funded by the government. PhD graduates will have industry required skill sets as well as industry experience. The industry post-doctoral fellowship program is very successful in Europe.

    Dr. Kiran Rawat

    1) A common platform where Industrial PDF vacancies are posted so that one does not have to search through each industry homepage.

    2) A platform where Industrial and/or National problems (sector wise) are highlighted, so that the upcoming researches know where exactly research is actually needed and they do not simply follow whatever the mentor is asking them to do!

    3) More opportunities for female researchers specially after marriage and child birth; with higher age limit criteria. Many complete their PhD by 35yrs and then they keep on loading opportunities based on maternity leave and age criteria!

    4) Tax-free fellowship and revision after a fixed interval.

    5) A platform where PhD and PDF students and even RA, Women scientist, etc can discuss their business ideas! Many times there are ideas but various pupils are unable to estimate it’s scope!! This mentorship program must be initiated!

    6) I want to develop a business whereby prognostic marker library be generated for Indian cancer tissue samples (in line of personalised cancer treatment) and in return we can advice a doctor which drug cocktail will be best suited for an individual. Together we can advice our pharma and research industry which proteins to Target for drug discovery….but I am unable to chalk out that how do I proceed and where to approach with this idea!!?? How to arrange funding or mentorship! Also I do not know if this idea is feasible in current scenario or is it too futuristic! There is no guidance for me!

    7) A common platform where existing research in industry as well as in Academics is displayed. I understand that an individual too can do this in this digital age but when any plan has government backing then it returns better fruits!


    There are major concerns that the policy makers should look into
    I don’t understand why the postdoc scholarships are based on this that the students cannot apply for them under their PhD guides
    I mean why will a student who has been working for 5 years in research and built a prospective thing from scratch want to leave and start something else. How can sm1 even concentrate? Yes working at other places is also important to increase your experience level. But in case of research it is absurd to go for 3 years or 2 years for post doc to sm other lab. Y are fellowships not allowed under the same guide so we can continue with the work v started from scratch.
    Specially in this pandemic are students from Kolkata expected to go to Delhi because v can’t apply under the same guide????
    What is SERB STAR? There are PhD research scholars all over India who are competent but do not have scope..they dont find anything to do after completing PhD.And this award is for PI for successful completion of SERB projects. The PI is a PI, they have got a permanent job, they have already completed projects. There should be more fellowships and awards to support the students who want to pursue Postdoc and infact some positions should be reserved for women. SERB NPDF should be allowed to be conducted under the same guide. It is a fellowship of just 2years. No good research can be started and completed in 2 years in India until v are already working on it from before.


    Currently, it looks like as if its a punishment to stay in academia to do postdoctoral research and not join an industry when it comes to livelihood and having a family.

    1. Postdoc fellowships/salaries should be tax-free, AND/OR,
    2. (If taxable) postdocs should be given benefits in addition to the basic salary, just like that given for working in companies, like
    a. reasonable health insurance for self (and for family) comparable to the one given to employees of companies,
    b. Provident Fund
    c. Dearness Allowance
    d. HRA (not all fellowships give HRA).
    3. Postdoc salaries/fellowships should be increased (minimum of 80-85k/month in hand esplly when working in metro cities, rather than having just a handful of fellowship schemes which pay 75k-1.25lac/month).
    4. Salaries/fellowships should be increased at fixed intervals (eg. 5-10% yearly like in companies) based on increasing no. of years (experience post PhD)
    5. All PhD/postdoc projects, institutes, working environments and people (students/supervisors) are not the same. Many a times, a postdoc is preceeded by a not so good PhD (or vice-versa). Defining an age limit (35yrs) during recruitment for faculty positions should be reconsidered.
    6. For all postdoc fellowships, manpower fund to hire a project staff should be provided in addition to self salary. A project student/staff will help with project, speeding up the pace of work, and the postdoc will automatically full-fledgedly gain experience in supervising a student (like a PhD supervisor).

    Jyotsna Begani

    1 There is a huge gap between the application for many of the post-doctoral fellowships and the announcement of the result.This huge gap of several months leads to confusion and unnecessary delay in starting of the post-doc career. Necessary policy change might be able to reduce this gap.

    2. For some reason(as per my own experience) state university students are much less aware about different govt. Fellowships and funding schemes. Can better outreach from the govt agencies to the state universities address this problem?

    3. There is huge gap in infrastructure and research funding between state universities and central universities. How can this gap be reduce?.


    I am a research scholar who is interested to have a career in academia. From my experience and observations of research scenario I would like to suggest some considerations for the policy makers in the path of making India a leading country in scientific discoveries and innovations. My suggestions are:
    1) A dedicated government cell to promote Research as a career option among young students in school and college level guiding students for different processes and aspects to get in research and academia.
    2) In the continuation of my first point, we should also approve more research projects, scholarships, steadily creating more positions for PhD, postdoc and permanent positions which should be done with keeping in mind every branch of science. The ratio of new PhD, postdoc and permanent posts should be maintained.
    3) Though with continuous affords we are lacking diversity on the basis of gender, caste, religion, states, tribe and economy in many research institutes. We should invest more in policies to make research and academia more accessible for brilliant minds coming from different communities.
    4) Since India is geographically a large country, many prominent research institutes are still geographically are clustered around metro cities. But if we consider establishing new institutes at every parts of country, it will help declutter many densely populated locations India and also will improve the local economy and community in general.
    5) In many job sectors, specifically government, there is no direct recruitments for PhD degree holders. Hence many PhD holders had to search jobs outside of this country. If government makes opportunities for PhD degree holders in sectors that are aligned with their research fields not only candidates will be benefited but those sectors will improve too.

    The following suggestions are particularly for PhD studies in India:
    1) PhD scholarship amount should be revised every year and consider for a yearly increment.
    2) The rules and regulations considering the expenditure of PhD contingency fund is often not clear and causes confusion. If the guidelines for this is more clear and also if it allows students to spend the five year contingency fund at once it could be helpful.

    Since we are facing a pandemic which nobody foreseen even few months ago, most of our research works are heavily affected and until the situations gets stable again it will continue to be so. Hence the following suggestions are against the backdrop of ongoing pandemic:
    1) I would urge to consider an extension of scholarship for all present research scholars in India.
    2) During this pandemic times, many are awaiting for SRF interview, PhD tenure extension,PhD viva voice, submission of proposals. If the dates are extended for all aforementioned cases it will be helpful. Also in many universities it is required to have minimum three years between proposal and thesis submission. In such cases, if the dates are changed because the lockdown it would be better to relax those rules. Similarly people who are waiting for SRF interview during this time, if due to lockdown the interview dates are changed it would better to consider the earlier effective dates for SRF tenure.

    Thank you very much for creating this space for an open interaction between the top advisories and young researchers.
    With regards,
    R Sarkar.


    Concerns on safety and security in Indian laboratories and proposed measures – regarding

    R&D sector in India is persistently seeking attention of GOI with a demand for steady increase in the country’s economic investment in R&D activities. Given the consistent voices of scientists, from both academia and industry, and aspiring scientists, for support from the GOI in their efforts towards an exponential growth of research activities in the upcoming years, India will hopefully witness an increase in the number of research facilities in the future. While research activities are paramount for growth in the country, the resources employed, such as chemicals, radiation, instruments etc harbor a range of potential hazards and risks, which, however, can be managed and ought to be managed through disciplined practices. Of note, the demise of a young scholar in a premiere institute steered significant changes in protocols and adoption of revised laboratory practices; however, the list of laboratory accidents that have not been reported is likely long, based on stories narrated by researchers, when specifically asked about this issue. At this juncture, it is vital to streamline periodical review of national policies/regulations specifically for laboratory safety and, laboratory research-associated emergency preparedness and response, for continuous improvement in quality of research operations in all R&D facilities. It is most vital to enforce due compliance to safety regulations and policies in all R&D facilities to prevent harmful impact to personnel, loss of resources, accidents, emergencies and breach of security.

    The current scenario in R&D facilities in India

    Despite the prevailing laws in the country such as the EPA, 1986, which elaborate on the responsibilities of research community and the principles governing research activities, as well as the existence of institutional safety committees, the real scenario of safety and security in many laboratories are far from meeting up to standards. At present, the institutional demands on compliance to safety guidelines is lax and defaulters are rarely subject to heavy penalties. In most institutes, an initial communication to employees, at their time of joining, regarding compliance to safety policies is not followed by periodic assessments. Formal institutional policies are not reviewed at frequent intervals by external regulatory authorities through appraisal. The policies have not been translated, to a consistent work culture of commitment to safety and security, across the hierarchy of personnel from principle investigators (who mostly plan and supervise research) to students and laboratory assistants (who comprise the actual ground level task force involved in experimental activities of any laboratory). The practice of reporting and record keeping of accidents, mishandling of laboratory material and security breaches is non-existent in majority of the R&D facilities. There is now a pressing need to implement changes at multiple levels of operations of R&D facilities to rectify and improve the standards of safety and security.

    Proposed measures to attain necessary standards of safety and security in R&D sector

    Establish a national body, that shall be known as National council of laboratory safety and security (NCLSS); the primary functions of the body should focus on issues pertaining to management of safety and security, including biological, chemical, electrical, fire, mechanical, physical, radiation and ergonomic safety in operations of a laboratory. Unlike the operations of the NGCMA and QCI who accredit organizations that volunteer for assessment, the periodic assessment of R&D facilities by the NCLSS should be made mandatory.
    The goals of the NCLSS should include, but not be limited to campaign for safety and security in laboratories, develop assessment models, perform periodic appraisal, monitor compliance to policies, offer recommendations to address the shortcomings in safety and security in the operation of facilities, develop support systems for emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
    Expand designated work force in R&D facilities and governmental bodies with capacities of development, implementation and oversight of laboratory safety and security systems
    Officialise the maintenance of a database of accidents, mishandling of laboratory material and security breaches by all the laboratories for review by the NCLSS to help in improving the safety guidelines, safety practices and development of preventive measures
    Enforce a mandate for adequate training of all laboratory personnel for understanding of and adherence to safety guidelines by the R&D facility
    Regular internal audits of safety and security, in all laboratories, to mitigate development of insensitive attitudes of researchers due to long duration of repetitive activities involving potentially hazardous material
    Expand the structure of institutional safety committees to include the position of Chief safety and security officers as a senior position in operations, with authority and assessment rights, and the positions be opened strictly for personnel with extensive laboratory research experience
    Formulate certification courses on national policies, compliance requirements and management of laboratory safety and security
    Promote the studies on development of models for economic evaluation of safety costs that could be of use to the scientific community in planning of research projects and grant proposals


    The number of Ph.D. scholars is rapidly increased in our country, while the same order of job creation is lacking both academic and industries?

    Most of the institute is considering faculty position criteria is one or two postdocs abroad why Indian postdoc are not considering for requirement?

    Many of our Indian national labs are not creating many job positions? if they make positions are contract basis only to work on project mode? that mostly makes frustration for any researcher undergoes work. There should be a policy that could make any scientist works under project more than two to three years should be considered for a permanent position if there perform well during the project.


    Recommendations for STIP :
    1) More focus and funding on ecology, evolution, and epidemiological research.
    2) A dedicated research and teaching institute covering these subject areas would be a boost to these vital areas.
    3) Indian research arena needs more natural product chemists and synthetic organic chemists who are becoming a rare species
    4) We need an “integrated online platform” that can handle faculty applications for different central institutes. The prospective candidates should be able to know where their application stands. The platform should also show job vacancies in different central institutes.
    5) We need more budget allocations that can help research institutes appoint administrative personnel. This will reduce the burden on researchers who are currently spending a significant amount of time on this.
    6) A key area that our country needs to invest in is “establishing core facilities ” in existing research institutes that can provide service and train students. Importantly, we need to recruit highly qualified professional and administrative staff to run such facilities.
    7) A central repository for maintaining strains, plasmids, animals, cell lines, and other goods of common interests to different research communities with a good logistics and administrative team. Researchers anywhere in India should have easy access to all the material available


    Representative (which should be one of the current recipients) of the fellows should be allowed to have a say in final outcome of any new policy/modification/proposal, as any new changes will affect ONLY the fellows.

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